Monday, July 28, 2008

The Nice Adventure

Well I have given you a little taste of our time in Nice. I do have a happy update - Bruce made back in Geneva safe and sound. But I figure you are dying to hear the rest of our adventure - despite that it is Friday and we are headed for a new adventure tomorrow.

So travel back with me one week ago: we woke up very, very early to catch our 8 am Baboo flight. Of course it was delayed an hour, but we boarded and it wasn't what we expected. It was actually a Spanish airline that was flying the Baboo flight to Nice. We arrived in Nice and the weather was beautiful.

We headed to our hotel - Hotel Med (which from now on, I will refer to as Club Med.) Our rooms weren't ready but they let us stash our stuff. We then headed down to a cafe for a pizza lunch. We headed back to find that Club Med was ready for 7:11 - which meant we immediately got our bathing suits on and headed for the beach.

If you aren't aware the French Rivera does not have sandy beaches. It was full of rocks. And beaches in Nice are topless. However, none of the girls from the 7:11 club opted for that option. We enjoy how our bikinis look with tops. Plus when you think about it - that could be a really uncomfortable burn.

The first day we went to the free beach - where you lay on the rocks with your towel. Needless to say - the nap that I thought I was going to take on the beach did not happen. But we had fun in the water.

That evening we headed to the pedestrian district of Nice. We had a great dinner with wine at a nice little restaurant that was tucked off the main streets. The best part was a salad, dinner and dessert only cost 18 Euro - which isn't bad for Europe.

We enjoyed the night in Nice. We saw some street performers - one which could have been the worst Michael Jackson impersonator ever. It was funny because we wanted around for his show because his costume was so impressive - but seriously my robot could have entertained more people than his impersonation.

We headed back to the hotel fairly early because Bruce, Karyn and I were waking up at 5:30 am to run 8 miles. Let me tell you it was hard to wake up - but I am glad we did because had we waited it would have been way too hot. However as we left the hotel, some drunk club goers - who were just ending their night stopped us and asked us if we knew of an open restaurant. We pointed them in the right direction. Then as we ran off - they yelled crazy Americans - they couldn't understand why we would get up so freaking early to go running - and at that moment I agreed with them.

Then on Saturday we headed to the pay beach. It was about 25 dollars a person to go, but it was worth every penny. Mainly because there was water with ice - which is not a common practice in Europe. We enjoyed the beach from chairs under umbrellas. And then there were nice bathrooms - instead of having to pay to use the crappy ones. It was a very enjoyable day.

That evening we took the train for 3 Euro to Monte Carlo - Monaco. It was ok - but we weren't dressed for the Casino and the stars weren't lining the streets like I expected. And to be honest once you have seen a huge yacht and a Ferrari - more of th same isn't that impressive.

We left on Sunday and you can read about that ordeal below. Overall I recommend Nice, but if you go to the beach in my opinion it's worth the money to hit the private beach.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Our Trip to Nice the Photo Essay
(for those of you who don't like to read)*

Fly Baboo or a Spanish Airline posing as Baboo.

Joe & Robear

Meghan, Karyn & Tony
One of the many pay beaches in Nice - turns out when the beach is all rock - it is totally worth the 13 Euro for a chair and ice in the water.
The back alley restaurant when were ate are first night in Nice.
My delicious mozeralla and tomato salad.
Bruce's honey and goat cheese salad.
The market in Nice.
More evening photos in Nice.
The Nice Beach at Night.
We all need our special time with Robear.
Bruce shares a special moment.
Karyn and Robear (with Joe.)
Robear and Meghan
Nice is hopping at Night.
We always knew Robear was French!
Monaco for 3.30 Euro via the Rail.
The group outside the casino.
The Fancy Train Station in Monte Carlo Another Angle of the Fancy StationThe Hills of Monte CarloWe stayed at Club Med in Nice - ok it was Med Hotel but close enough.
*I will actually write the entire story tomorrow - but it's late so I need to get to bed for class tomorrow.
7:11 Has to Leave One Behind

This weekend the 7:11 group headed to the French Rivera for some fun in the sun. All seven of us headed out on Friday, but only six returned. What? Yes, only six of the members returned on Baboo Airlines today- Bruce was left behind. But we (myself and the rest of the group) are confident that he will be ok, due to the fact that he is the only one with any French language knowledge.

So how did this happen? Well when we got to the airport today, everything seemed fine. We were checking in Tony, Meghan, and Joe all got through with no problem, then it was Bruce and my turn. She pulled up my reservation no problem, but when it came to Bruce that is when the woman was like - I'm sorry sir but we don't have a reservation for you. So they sent us to this booth - and these two women were baffled - they couldn't find Bruce's reservation. It was of course the only one he hadn't printed and brought with him. When they finally found the reservation it was for Monday morning at 9:30 am. We of course asked them if there was any room on the flight - the answer was promptly yes and then said that would be 255 Euro's. For those of you who are not hip on the current exchange rate that's about 400 American Dollars. We asked if we could just switch his ticket to today - and they said NO. And there wasn't any sweet talking or arguing with them.

I tried to go upstairs and use the internet terminal to see if I could find his reservation. However that was a disaster due to the fact that the French keyboard has the "Q" and "A" swapped. It made me crazy and it wouldn't take my credit card. So that was no help.

So we quickly checked me in and Bruce dropped me off at the security. He headed to the train station to see if he could get a train ticket back to Geneva. That was not an option because he would have gotten back later than if he waited until tomorrow's flight. So he found a cheap hotel and enjoyed another day in Nice.

However despite the snafu - the Baboo is the way to go in Europe. They have new nice planes and they serve delicious food. The crew was very friendly. So my only suggestion is just make sure you print out your flight information - and always bring it with you.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Running & Research

We are almost through our first week and so far our days here in Geneva have been pretty intense with schoolwork. Our mornings are very typical – we meet at the rock in front of the John Knox Center at 7:11 am for our daily run. However, I feel that they hills maybe larger than last year. Most of our days and evenings are spent in the classroom in front of our computers - researching and writing our research papers on our Master’s Projects.

The good news is that despite all the hard work – we will play. Tomorrow morning we are leaving early in the morning for the city of Nice in the French Rivera. We are flying Baboo Airlines (insert giggle here), believe it or not it’s a Swiss discount airline. So far since we booked we have already had the flight times adjusted, Robert informed us that they literally have four planes in their fleet – however he did inform us that they were four new planes. From the historic streets of Paris to Geneva and now the 7:11 club is now hitting the beach, for a weekend of adventure, relaxation and of course fun. Stay tuned for the adventure.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Rest of the Paris Story

So I wrote about day one which can be summarized as lots of walking- day two can be summed up as stairs, stairs and more stairs. The first thing we did on day two was head to Sacre Cure (which is the white church on a huge hill. It gives you an amazing view of the city. However you must climb nearly 400 stairs to get to the top of the church - plus the stairs the many stairs that you must first must climb to get out of the metro - then add the stairs required to climb to get up the hill to the church. So if you do that math - even with the metric conversion it is a lot of stairs. (pictures below.)One of the coolest parts was when we got out of the metro we ran into a great little jazz band. They were a mixed of French, German and American musicians. It was a great little band - it was a lot of fun to listen to.Then we had dinner. And headed down to the Eiffel Tower. It was night so it was lite up - but this year it was lit up with blue lights - which sparkle at the beginning of every hour for 10 minutes. I know it's super touristy - however it is an amazing. We walked up the 680+ stairs as far up as you could walk. Then we came down to sit at the park, bought a bottle of wine and watched the Tower sparkle. It's funny because when it starts you can hear a collective - ahhhhhh from the crowd. We headed back to the hotel and enjoyed each others company - catching up on the last year until 2 am.The next day was our museum tour. We did sleep in a little (well half the group did, Tony and Karyn were up bright and early to go to the Louvre.) The rest of us weighed our options and decided that sleep would be better than trying to make it through the entire day. Karyn and Tony had an intense tour - the rest of us did the highlights - which of course include the Mona Lisa. I know that I could be stoned for saying this but I am not a huge fan on the Louvre - it's beautiful and a great experience, but my favorite part is Napoleon's apartments. We tried to hit the Musee d'Orsay - but it was closed. Then we headed to the Centre Pompidou, which I did love (I didn't love the walk - my feet were tired) but I did love the modern art. That is more my style - there were tons of Picasso's and people I had never heard off - but the art was very interesting. By the time we got home it was 9:30 am and since I needed to run in the morning - we weren't going to have another late night.

After our run this morning we headed to the Musee d'Orsay. It was also in my opinion better than the Louvre. It is filled with Monet's, Van Gogh's, Whistler's Mother and more. I know it's all the famous painting - but admit it most of us would rather read the tabloids about the stars not ordinary people - well the same goes with me and museums.

Then we headed back to the hotel - to get our luggage to head for the train station. We sat for a short while at the train station. Then we headed back to Geneva on the TGV (the fast train that bolts through the Paris country side at about oh 200 mph.) We arrived in Geneva at about 6:30 pm. And now we are in the computer lab at the John Knox Center (Robert just arrived - so the 7:11 club is complete.) Tomorrow we start class - so technically the work must begin - but first we meet at 7:11 for a run (or as in my case tomorrow a short walk - I must have at least one rest day after today's long run.)
12 Miles Through Paris

This morning, we (Bruce, Karyn, Joe & I) woke up very early (5:15 am) to go on our 12 mile scheduled run through Paris. We ran up to the the Arc' de Triumph. Then we ran down the Champs Elysees - which was probably one of the most interesting parts of the run. Why? Well it wasn't the scenery, it was the fact that all the clubs were closing down - yes it was close to 6 am. Bruce made the comment, "Four of us are not like the others." Yes, that would be the four that had slept that were wearing running clothes and weren't stumbling down the street. I must admit that time flew by as I was nervously watching the drunken club goers wondering just what they might do. Good news - nothing happened:)

Then we ran down to the Place de la Concorde - at that moment it was beautiful. The moon was out, the sky was beautiful. It was truly an amazing moment. Then we ran by the Louvre - that's were we hit 4 miles - that's also where Joe and Karyn called it quits. Bruce and I headed down to the Notre Dame.

Then we ran to the Eiffel Tower (which by the way was trashed - yes, the street cleaners in Paris could be the hardest working men in Europe. That is one of the things we noticed - Paris in the morning especially a Sunday morning is trashed. The area right near the Eiffel Tower was just littered with paper and crap. As we ran by the started to pick up all the trash.

Finally we ended our run right by the Arc de Triumph. To be honest I am surprised we made it the entire 12 miles because we have done so much walking - and of course walking up the endless amount of stairs. It was probably one of the most spectacular runs I have ever done - I didn't have a great time per say but it was beautiful. I will write more about the rest of the trip in the next post.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Bonjour from Paris

It was a wonderful reunion at the Geneva Airport - Bruce came to pick me up with our friend Joachim from Ohio (Mr. Lori of Tails on the Bird Couch.) It was nice to see him in person because my only true evidence that he is still alive is a picture or two on Lori's blog - which by the way you should all read - it is very very enjoyable. See the link on the right. :)

Then we headed back to the John Knox Center in Geneva where Karyn and Meghan where waiting for us - well kind of they were sleeping. Poor Tony missed his flight in Newark due to delays so he was stuck in Paris. He arrived a short time later with of course no luggage. The 7:11 club was complete (well with the exception of Robert who is traveling with his wife and friends - we have had one email from him that indicated his plane was struck by lightening over the Atlantic and their Hotel in London caught fire - oh and he has had at least one Cheese Royale - other than that we haven't heard how his trip is going - hopefully better.)

We headed downtown to the shops so Tony could get some clothes for Paris. After spending some time in the Manor department store - we headed off to the Lake for something to eat. Then we got back to the JKC and packed our bags for Paris (yes we are only here for 4 days so we weren't going to bring all our luggage with us.) Then we turned in early because we had an early train.

We woke up this morning at about 5 am. We had to leave for the train station by 6 am in order to catch the bus and go through French customs (which are convientantly at the Geneva train station.) We made it with plenty of time and boarded the 4 hour express TVG train. We didn't get much sleep on the train, but that didn't stop us from heading out on the town.

We managed to get some lunch at a sandwich shop and eat el fresco in the park. Then we went down to the Arc de Triumphe, the shopping district Champs Elysees, walked down to the Louvre, and ended at Notre Dame before taking the metro back to our hotel. We are all feeling the high price of the Euro - so we didn't buy much. Just enjoyed each others company. There is a lot happening here in Paris - they are getting ready for the Tour De France to finish here - but it doesn't finish while we are here, it will rap up on the Champs Elysees on July 27. It would have been a really cool accident if it was this weekend, but as I told Bruce it looks like they have a lot more to do to be ready - and they weren't working that fast.

Here's Bruce with his Paris souvenirs a new wallet - we like to call it his credit card attache'.

We had dinner. Everyone but me is still fighting jet lag - and I am just tired from two very very early mornings. So after our very long walk and dinner we are calling it a night. Tomorrow we are planning to head over to Sacre Cure (the church on the hill) and maybe go into a couple museums.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

G. Love in Germany

Well I must admit, I was probably the only person who came to see G. Love and Special Sauce. We arrived at the park (which is a lot like Pine Knob) and found our seats. Yes, I said seats, those of you have been with me to a G. Love concert know that I am always standing in the front row. But this time, I sat with Barbara. When G. Love came out - House Man said hello to the crowd in German. However, the crowd (with the exception of me did not seem so interested.) 

They played an ok set. A couple new songs from their new album: Superhero Brother, unfortunately they did not play my favorite new songs which is the first on the album - Communication. Also they did one cover and only played one song from the Lemonade album. They only played an hour. It was a good opening set and really that is all they were was the opener. I knew it going into this but it was really for the experience. Barbara told me she had a good time but she might have just said that for my benefit.

We didn't stay for the entire Jack Johnson set because well I am a Jack Johnson fan, but to be honest after a while all the songs start to sound the same to me. At one point - I could swear he was playing the same song he had already played. The crowd loved him, but since I had to leave really early in the morning for the airport - so we left early - which I am sure means G. Love played with Jack Johnson after we left - but the good news is I am now in Geneva (where Bruce and Joe met me at the airport.) I will write more later about the end of my Berlin trip and G. Love - but now is time for lunch. 

Monday, July 14, 2008

Jennie & the Bus

Today I ventured out into the city alone. Barbara was at work - I was going to wake up at 8:30 am however, I didn't fall asleep until 2:00 am. So I woke up at 9:30 instead. I went for a short run - then returned to the flat to prepare for the rest of my day. I showered and had breakfast - then I was like ok the bus comes at 19 after I better get down there so I don't miss it. Well to start I was wrong it doesn't come at 19 after it comes at 29 after. So I fooled around taking some photos and then I sat at the bus stop and waited. Well you would think that would be the appropriate thing to do - however I was so wrong. Why - well as I sat there the bus pulled I got and up thought I would get on - but the bus drove right by. Yes, apparently you need to stand by the road like you are hailing a cab. So then I headed back inside to wait the 20 minutes for the next taxi. I occupied my time with email. Once I finally made it on the bus - I had no problems. I then headed with the S-Bahn into downtown Berlin.

Yesterday morning - Sandra, Barbara and I went to a very popular lake area (believe it or not it was the high 60's and people were swimming. We on the other hand enjoyed a wonderful German beverage. Then we headed home for a wonderful lunch of homemade Kase Spaetzle (cheese and homemade noodles.) Then we had to rush over the train station to drop Sandra off so she could go back home. Then in the evening Barbara and I headed into the city. We enjoyed coffee on the street called Unter der Linden (which means under the linden trees.) After coffee we walked into museum row and that's where I headed back today. We had a great evening stroll because the rain had gone and the weather was beautiful. We walked down the hip area - filled with the bars called Orainenburger Strasser. The street was filled with interesting women - here they are called Frauendienacht (aka hookers, street walkers, or if you want to be nice ladies of the night.) I asked Barbara if the police ever cracked down and she said no - it was just accepted in this neighborhood. Ironically all we were interested in was was Eis (ice cream) it took forever but we found what we were looking for. However on our adventure I saw a welcome poster - for tomorrow night's activities. Yes, Barbara and I will be going to the G. Love/Jack Johnson concert in Berlin. Believe it or not all of you who are calling me a stalker in your head - it just happened to be a lucky accident that they are playing here when I am visiting. As you notice by the poster Jack Johnson is the headliner - however we know who's most important to me. Barbara suggested we head over early so we get a good spot in the front. You have to love her! We enjoyed a wonderful ice cream dinner and then headed home.

Today - after I finally got into the city, I went to the German History Museum. It was very interesting. However I was a little rushed for time because well I had a late start.

Then I made my way to where Barbara works and we went by car to far eastern side of the city, to a place called Gardens of the World. As we drove through was was the former East Berlin - I noticed how much it had changed since the last time I was here. However it still seems drastically different from Zehlendorf (the area of the city where Barbara lives.) Zehlendorf is the formed US section of the city - in fact the apartment where Barbara lives now used to be home to American Soldiers. Now they are called the Berlin Penthouse Apartments. They are very nice apartments but the word penthouse doesn't come to mind.

But anyway back to our East German adventured. We went to the Gardens of the world. We ventured to Italy, had tea in China, headed over to Japan and South Korea. You know we hit all the hot spots. I even had a chance to create a zen garden - it turns out that I am amazing - ok I didn't make it but I did enjoy the zen. It was fun, but by the end of our stroll I was exhausted. I don't know why - but it takes me a good four days to totally recover from jet lag. I am sure I do everything wrong - starting with taking a nap the first day, but I just can't help myself. It is impossible to get lots of sleep on the plane.

The other highlight was I drove home. Yes, I am now an international driver. I drove the VW Polo. The Polo is the smallest VW car. And despite the roads being super narrow - I didn't hit anyone including bikers (who are crazy here.) However, if I lived here I think I would stick to the public transit - it is just easier. Well I need to get my beauty sleep for the G. Love Concert.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Sandra & Barbara outside of the Sony Center at Potsdammer Platz
The Sony CenterA Holocaust Memorial near the Brandenburg Gate.Proof that I am here.
The New American Embassy in Berlin.
Picture courtesy of Sandra.
A beautiful night in Berlin.
What's left of the Berlin wall.